Room By Room vs. Category Organizing

I recently finished reading “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. One of the key things in her method for organizing is to focus on organizing and decluttering by category of item, rather than room by room.

She suggests gathering up all of one category of item, for example, books, no matter where the books are normally stored in your home. Then go through the books with an eye to purging and identifying those you will keep. Her argument is that if you go category by category, the rooms will end up organized anyway.

I really like this in theory. I used this method to go through my books and my clothes. However… for me at least, it seems that sometimes room by room is the only way to go.

Some rooms just demand to be focused on, rooms such as my basement, a.k.a., the Subterranean Pit of Doom. (And you have to say it all drawn out and dramatic: Doooooom!)

There are so many different types of things down there, that really, there’s nothing for it but to dive in and start decluttering. I just wish I had a backhoe in the basement.

messy basement photo

And this is just one small corner. Hold me.

Do you have a preference for either room by room or category for organizing?


Working Up Steam

When we moved into our house we were very gung-ho about repairing and painting and refinishing. But we eventually ran out of steam.

I’m trying to work up the energy to paint the upstairs and downstairs hallways. Many months ago, I painted sample colors on the walls, didn’t really like any of them, and so these weird little squares of color, patchy and unpleasant, have been up ever since.

I finally decided that, although it’s thrilling to be able to paint the walls any colors I choose, that I may actually be best served by just finding a nice off-white. I know. Boring.

But goodness knows that my experiments with vivid Barbie pink, bright aqua, and deep mustard yellow were unfortunate at best. I think there’s something to be said for a nice, neutral off-white.

But have you seen how many whites are available? It’s nuts.

Is it cheating if I just decide that, since I like the white I chose for the trim and baseboards, I should just pick a white one or two shades away from the trim color on the paint chip? A safe, not very adventurous choice, but one that’s almost given to work well, right?

Well, that’s my plan. Now to find the steam to make it happen.

On the Level

Several weeks ago, on the Nextdoor forum, a neighbor advertised an original oil painting for sale for only $50. I loved the photo she’d posted, I replied, and that painting was mine!

It’s from an Etsy shop and the artist is named Leonid Afremov. I really like his other works too!

Leonid Afremov oil painting

I brought it home, so excited to hang it in my bedroom, but quickly realized it was too big and too heavy to hang from just a single hook.  Matters were suddenly more complicated, because I was going to have to attach two D rings to the back of the frame, and figure out how to hang it so that it was level.

I know, this shouldn’t be a big deal, but I’ve had way too many experiences hanging things with two hooks, only to have them be just a little bit out of alignment. It’s the visual equivalent for me of fingernails on a chalkboard.

But, I measured twice, even three times. I took my time and carefully made sure the placement of the D hooks on the back of the frame were measured exactly.

They were perfectly aligned. Level. Success!

I made sure the marks on the wall for the picture hooks were measured exactly.

They were perfectly aligned. Level. Success!

I hung up the painting, took a few steps back, and got ready to congratulate myself. And yes, everything was indeed perfectly level.

Unfortunately, my perfectly level painting is placed WAY too low on the wall. Like about six to eight inches too low.

If I were running an art gallery intended to be visited only by second-graders, this painting would be at the perfect height. But…

Back to the measuring board.

Closets: useful home storage, or black holes of chaos?

As I’m cleaning out several closets and finding a lot of trash and broken items just shoved into the unseen recesses, I’m thinking that closets are really not the most useful storage.

Unless, I suppose, one springs for a lovely closet organizing system, that makes dark unseen recesses a thing of the past.

Why did we keep empty boxes? Dirty old shoe inserts? Or, for that matter, single shoes without any mates?

I believe that the Container Store often has Elfa closet system sales in the beginning of the year. This may be the year I succumb.

The Eternal Suckiness of Home Repair

Has anyone else had the repeated experience of getting just a bit of money set aside for a project to spruce up the actual appearance and design of room in the house, when suddenly, some necessary system or appliance breaks?

I figure I cannot be the only homeowner that has experienced this sad economic loop.

Most recently, our laundry facilities gave up the ghost, and we needed new washer and dryer. We set out with lots of ideas in mind, wish lists of features, but were, of course, reduced to buying the one and only set that would actually fit into the tiny laundry closet. (The same story happened when our old refrigerator broke. We wanted lots of amazing new features, but were stuck with the one single model at various stores that would just barely fit the available space in our 1967 house. We had one millimeter to spare.)

On a side note: I find it so bizarre how much bigger appliances are now than they were in 2014. Here’s hoping that our 1967 Montgomery Ward stove has some more years in it, because the odds are good that modern stoves won’t fit into the slot in the counter where it resides.

In this instance, putting in a washer/dryer required new duct work for the dryer (more $$) and we were also told that the floor underneath should be tiled, so that the machines would sit level. When the bath was tiled before we bought the house, the prior owners decided not to extend it into the laundry closet, so the units were never level.  (More $$)

It really grates my cheddar that we needed to spend money to tile a space that no one can even see!

But finally, finally, it’s done. The washer and dryer are back in place and working.

The money we had thought we might use to spruce up the kitchen, gone. Buh-bye! Ka-ching! Oh well, at least our clothes will be clean.

photo of tiled laundry closet floor

Tiling in progress. Filthy walls.

photo of painted and tile laundry closet

Tiling done. I cleaned and painted the walls a nice white.

Finished laundry closet

Duct work finished, laundry operational.

Do you see what I mean about all the money we spent to spruce up and fix this space and make it nice? Oh, wait, no, you don’t, because it’s totally hidden behind and beneath the washer and dryer.  Oh well… c’est la chez.



Helm Weave Chainmaille Bracelet

I just finished another chainmaille weave bracelet… again, a pattern for beginners, which is the appropriate level for me. I am very happy with how it turned out. It’s called the Helm weave. It’s made of sterling silver and has a nice heavy feel. I loved this weave because it has depth and looks amazing up close and in person.

I am thinking about my next piece, maybe a necklace, and maybe using colored jump rings of either aluminum or niobium.

Helm weave chainmaille braceletI’m hoping to be able to take a class in chainmaille soon. It’s been just about impossible to find a local teacher, but I did find a woman who says she might teach a class at a local jewelry studio sometime in July.

We do live in an amazing time, with the ability to find all kinds of free tutorials in both print and video online, plenty of books on just about any topic for sale… but for me, there is always something better about being able to sit in person, in a class, and ask questions directly.


Quick Chainmaille Necklace

This morning after breakfast, I had a half an hour and decided to try making a very quick chainmaille weave necklace. The pattern is called Japanese Lace, and it was a very simple version. In almost no time at all, I had a fun little sterling silver pendant. I rummaged around in my jewelry box for a chain to hang it from and was done.  :   )


Chainmaille Jewelry

I’ve been puttering around teaching myself how to make chainmaille (or chainmail) jewelry. Online tutorials, books, purchasing of tools and cheap jump rings, practicing making various types of weaves. It’s all been great fun, except for when the pliers slip and I jam my own hand with the pointed ends.

I finally couldn’t wait any longer, bought some sterling silver jump rings, and made my first actual bracelet, in what is called an orbital ring weave. I’m so pleased with how it turned out. I’ve included a full picture and a details photo below. Looking at them, I think maybe I should learn photography, since they are oddly shiny and fuzzy. Ah well…

Detail of sterling silver chain mail bracelet Orbital Ring Chain Mail Bracelet

My New Brain

I’ve been searching for what feels like eons for a way to organize everything I want to remember and be able to search and find things again. I used to have the perfect system for this type of organization and retrieval of data.

It was my brain.

But, as time has slipped by and I get older, I find that my brain is no longer as reliable as it once was, so I went looking for a replacement.

I may have found it in the online service called Evernote.

Evernote is, essentially, a great big database that you can use to store just about anything. The motto of the service is Remember Everything.

  • Got paper you want to scan and store online? Evernote has your back.
  • Got web pages you want to keep as reference or inspiration? Evernote has a web clipping feature that lets you save entire or partial web pages.
  • Got email you want to keep and be able to organize and search? Forward it to Evernote.
  • Want to take a screenshot of something on your tablet and store it in Evernote? Can do!
  • Want to create a note to house an image? Evernote can handle it, PLUS it comes with a way to add annotations directly on the image. I’ve already annotated an image of a floor plan I created for a room in the basement and it was so easy!

These are just a small sample of the types of things Evernote and store and organize. Evernote lets you organize in two main ways… you can create digital Notebooks full of individual notes. You can create a master notebook, with lots of sub-notebooks, each filled with notes. You can also index the content you are storing with tags.

So, for example, say I have a notebook for Home Repair. I can have individual notebooks within for every room or system in the house. Inside the notebooks, notes on repair people, supplies, wish lists, etc. And each note can be indexed with tags. So if I know I’m going to do a bathroom remodel, I might have a note about tiling the floor, which I could tag with words such as bathroomtileflooring. I could go into Evernote at any time and search by tags to locate all notes in all notebooks with those tags. So if I search for bathroom, I’d get all notes I created with that tag, no matter what notebook they are stored inside.

I’m actually so impressed with tags, that I’m wondering if it’s even worthwhile to create notebooks to organize at all. Of course, planning your tag strategy is important, because you want to be consistent with the tags you add, so that you don’t end up with multiple tags that mean the same thing… you want to have tags, but not so many that you can’t remember them, or that you have to search for several tags to find all the information you need.

As you might imagine, it’s a big job to get all the information I have stored in various formats using various systems into Evernote. And it’s a big job to map out how to organize and tag the info. But once the main input/organization is completed, and the systems and habits are set up, my replacement brain will be so helpful.

Evernote can be used to set reminders in notes. It can be used on Windows or on Macs (although I believe it has more features for Apple users), and on some mobile devices.

I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more on how to use Evernote in the coming months, as I begin the task of transferring so much into it. I think the key is to commit to it as the one place to store everything.

I’ll let you all know how it goes!

Painted Canvases Decorated

I held onto the three painted canvases for a while, trying to decide what to do with them. I knew I wanted some texture on them, but that they would probably not be able to support having anything heavy glued directly to them.

I ended up deciding to wrap them randomly in white raffia, and for one of them, the yellow one, I also glued that air clay flower I made earlier to the raffia. I painted the flower first, because the white clay got stained and dingy as I worked with it.

I tied the raffia behind the canvas, rather than gluing it down, so if I ever change my mind, I can remove it easily without damage to the canvases.

yellow painted canvas with clay flowerpink painted canvas with wrapping of white raffia

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